Victorian Volcanic Plains Conservation Management Network

Protecting grassland, seasonal wetlands, grassy woodlands & other ecosystems on the Victorian Volcanic Plains

Partnerships, persistence and pimeleas

This article by Frank Carland from VicRoads indicates the persistence needed in some situations to gain an environmental  and community benefit. In this case a burn was required to provide a strategic firebreak, as well as to enhance a population of Spiny Pimelea, Pimelea spinecens subsp. spinecens.

If you have tried to get one of these burns to happen you may realise how much discussion, planning and good will is involved, then add in the weather and the availability of CFA crews, not to forget the person tasked to put in a firebreak avoiding threatened species.

‘Last week saw the culmination of 9 years’ work, with the burning of Mortlake-Ararat Road between Olympic Road and Norbank Road for the first time since (I have been told) the 1970’s. The majority of the roadside as shown in the photo was burnt.

The extremely dry conditions were tempered by some light early morning drizzle, which took a lot of heat out the fire, and a south westerly breeze that carried the smoke away from the road.

The Pimeleas are now clearly visible in the burnt area, as are those on the slashed break. The slashed break combined with water did the job well, although it did require more effort on behalf of the CFA Brigades.

Credit must go to Tony Brady (CFA Vegetation Officer) for marshalling the neighbouring brigades to help with the burn – there was great turn out from Lake Bolac, Willaura and Mininera, supported by several private units, large and small, as well as a large mobile water storage vehicle.

This burn will reduce the fuel load for subsequent years and as well as acting as an important strategic fire control line, the grassland values of the site will be greatly enhanced. Thanks to all who have contributed to this project over many years.’

Teacher’s Pet

echidnaWhen it comes to raising the awareness of our natural environment we often wonder how to connect with various generations. Here is a link to a story, Teacher’s Pet, cleverly animated and told through the eyes and voices of children at the Dimboola Primary School. It looks like the children would have had a lot of fun making this film.

An eagle enlists the help of a group of primary school students to return a lost baby echidna home. This short animated film was a collaboration between Delkaia Aboriginal Best Start and thirteen Koorie students from Dimboola Primary School from Prep to Grade 6.

The students were heavily involved in the film supplying all the artwork, voices and even photographing the school to be used as backgrounds in the film.

Imagine the future landscape

Yesterday I attended one of the Future Landscapes workshops. Future Landscapes is a climate change adaptation project that will help Councils from the Central Highlands Region of Victoria, better understand the impacts of projected climate change on the region’s natural assets and respond effectively to protect and improve agriculture and natural resources across the region. The organisations  involved are Ballarat, Moorabool, Hepburn, Golden Plains and Pyrenees Councils and Cultivate Agribusiness Central Highlands Inc.

The Project aims to provide Councils with valuable information, climate scenario modelling, case studies, tools and materials to ensure simple adaptation actions are integrated within their operations, plans and policies. Deakin University has been engaged to undertake research and develop practical materials to equip local Councils and key partners with an accurate and up to date snapshot of climate risks and opportunities, preparedness and adaptation for the region.

This information will inform Council planning practices and the development of tools to optimise food and fibre production landscapes and biodiversity protection both locally and across the region. Here is the link if you wish to follow the project.

The focal assets chosen for the modelling include Plains Grassy Woodland, Plains Grassland, Dry Forest, Riparian Forest, Striped Legless Lizard, Bush Stone-curlew, Superb Parrot, Phascogale and the agricultural assets are brassicas, cool climate grapes, blue gums and wheat. Case study modelling will be developed for 4 biodiversity assets and 4 agricultural production systems?

It was very interesting to see the modelling for 2030 and 2070 and wonder what we are going to do in a hotter and drier climate.  What will be the key ecosystems and should we be thinking about the plant selection for our next landcare plantings. There are 3 workshops still to be held next week in Hepburn Shire.

Bandicoots at Mt Rothwell

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Eastern Barred Bandicoot moving for cover

Recently I was lucky to see several Eastern Barred Bandicoots (Peremeles gunnii) while on a tour at Mt Rothwell. They are really quite small, about as big as a rabbit. You can see why they are no longer found in the wild in Victoria when they are a handy sized meal for a fox.

Captive breeding programs are being relied on to build up numbers so they can be released into more large predator proof enclosures. Eastern Barred Bandicoots (EBB)  have one of the shortest gestation periods of any mammal at 12.5 days which makes it sound like breeding them should be easy, but the genetic diversity is poor so it is not as easy as it seems.

Mt Rothwell has the largest EBB population in the recovery program. When the predator proof fence is finally completed and the foxes and cats controlled, Tiverton, a 800 ha grassland property near Dundonnell, will their new home.

This is recovery project has many partners including Zoos Victoria. It is great to get a glimpse of what it may have been like in the grasslands to see them in the wild, by taking a tour at Mt Rothwell. There are other animals to see there, including rock wallabies, pademelons and eastern quolls.

The earliest land management of the grasslands

Here are some notes from talks given by Bill Gammage and Bruce Pascoe at the Lake Bolac Eel Festival on the weekend. Thanks to Donna for taking the time to provide these notes. It is great to have others input into this website and I would love to be sent more articles and photos.

biggest estateBill Gammage and Bruce Pascoe were the guest speakers at the Lake Bolac Eel Festival on the weekend. They both spoke about the contents of their respective books. Bill on the way Aboriginal people used fire as a land management tool, which meant they never saw the devastating wildfires we are all too familiar with today. Bruce spoke about the agricultural farming system, which was applied to the land to create an extremely productive country.

This agricultural system was not understood or applied by the early settlers and now we have many areas across the country that produces very little. Both topics presented were intimately entwined, making for a thought-provoking 2 hrs for many people who hadn’t heard of the research by these two authors.

The source of information for both men’s research seemed to mainly be taken from records during the time of settlement; notes in journals, painted and drawn images, surveyors records. With these snippets of information, plus Bill’s and Bruce’s natural curiosity, their knowledge of culture, and their wonderful understanding of the Australian natural environment, they gained a valuable insight into a critical time of change for all our native plants and animals. The information they’ve uncovered is fascinating. Hearing this information for the first time would have most people stunned as to why we are only finding out about this now.

…”a fire a day keeps the bushfires away” says Bill. Burning was an intricate system, but a system none-the-less. Fire was not dependent on chance but on policy. Every square inch of the land was burnt, or not burnt, for a reason. Which made the country look beautiful and useful, a description commonly used in settler’s journals was ‘a gentleman’s park’. But this ‘park’ was not natural but made. Fire controlled fuel, created diversity, balanced species, and ensured abundance so resources were easy to locate. It created paddocks without fences. Continue reading

Detecting early invaders

If you are interested in weeds then you may like to take a look at a new resource. Identifying and controlling an infestation before it becomes a major issue has many benefits. The Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion (WESI) Project was created to assist public land managers to focus on invasive species at the early  stages of invasion.

A series of  six guides have been developed to assist public land managers improve the decision making process and then plan the work required –  link

  1. Search and detect
  2. Name and notify
  3. Assess the risk
  4. Delimit the invasion
  5. Decide the response
  6. Implement eradication

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